Stephen King Webquest


For over 37 years no author has scared more readers and supplied more sleepless nights to fans than Stephen King. While King is best known for his mastery of spine-tingling tales, he's also written stories that comment on society's ills and problems. King has written over fifty novels, five non-fiction books, and numerous short stories. Many of King's books and stories have been adapted to the screen; a few famous stories that became movies are The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Christine, Pet Semetary, It, and The Mist. King's most recent books include Under the Dome, Dr. Sleep, Revival and Finders Keepers and the recently released End of Watch. King is easily one of the most respected and recognizable authors in the world today. His easy style of writing, ability to tell a story, his crafting of characters, and skill of driving home the thrills and chills is a big reason why we keep buying his books.

Can horror ever be literature? Could the most prolific writer in the horror genre ever be worthy of study? Or is anything written in this genre merely entertainment at its best and nothing but worthless junk for the masses at its worst? Stephen King, the author this webquest is about, is an amazing storyteller, most critics agree on that, but ask yourself the question: is telling stories that terrify, horrify and gross out readers enough if one wants to be considered a serious writer? And is terrifying, horrifying and grossing out his readers really all that King does or is there more to him than meets the eye? That's your job to find out! In this Webquest you are going to investigate King as a person and as a writer, you are going to look into his characters and films based on his books, you are going to read some of his short stories and parts of his novels and in the end you are going to decide whether King should be subject of study in English Lit classes or should stay in the paperbacks section at the airport, where he belongs.

Oh, and while you're at it, be prepared: you may very well be terrified, horrified or grossed out.


The situation:

A few authors have been short listed and your job is to investigate Stephen King. Most teachers refuse to consider him a serious writer but your teacher loves him. If you do a good job, you will gain enough credit to get you through more years of English. If you fail, your teacher will yell at you and you will spend years reading nothing but Twilight, unless you like Twilight. Naturally, you want to do well. But if you hate King's work, you should be able to say so - as long as you can support your opinion with evidence from your research. If you can't - you could always ask for another teacher, right?

The criteria deciding whether or not an author is deemed worthy of study have been determined by Mrs. Mulligan. You will find the criteria in the Process section.  

So what do the Powers That Be want you to come up with?


Step 1: The author. Ten interesting facts about Stephen King's life and career .

Step 2: An overview of his work. Titles and descriptions of at least six of King's novels . You do not need to read these books, but you do need to find out what they are about. Give a VERY BRIEF summary of the story and include a picture of the book cover.

Step 3: Reading. A review of two short stories by Stephen King. These you DO need to read! You can find your own or you can follow the links included in this description. 

Step 4: At the movies. Answers to questions about films based on King's work

Step 5: The master's own advice. Stephen King's own advice on writing, and the answer to the following question:  in what you've read, does he stick to his own advice about use of language?

Step 6: Characters. Answers to questions about King's characters.

Step 7: Your personal recommendation: is King a good enough writer to be studied in class? Why or why not? What criteria for good writing does King meet? And what is YOUR opinion?



Include all sources in proper MLA format.


Use the sources below but feel free to find your own.  You will need to copy and paste into the search bar.


Task One — Personal Information
What are 10 interesting facts you learned about King? Why are they interesting?


Task Two - Books
List 10  books written by King.  Include a short description of each book and a picture of the book cover. Each description should be a minimum of one paragraph. Then answer the following question: Which of these books would you like to read if you had to choose two, and why?


Task Three - Short stories

A review of two short stories by Stephen King. These you DO need to read! You can find your own or you can follow the links included in this description.

Tips on writing a good review: (You may skip step four in your review)

Stories: (graphic novel)



Task Four - At the movies

A lot of King's short stories and books have been made into films or television series, and some of these are classics.
Watch the film clips and read the descriptions. Then answer the questions.
1. Are all of these films horror movies?
2. If not, what other genres are they?
3. In the scary scenes overview, which scene did you find the scariest? And why?
4. Which of these films have you seen?



Task Five - On Writing

Read Stephen King's 20 rules for good writing. Rules number 2, 3 and 4 deal with language in the story. Choose one of the stories you've read and go through it again. Does he stick to his own rules? Discuss. 



Task Six - Characters  

One of the things Stephen King does best is create believable, likeable (or terrifying) characters. Read the character descriptions, watch the clips of King's most memorable characters and answer the questions.
1. If one of them had to be in your life, with which one would you be okay? Why? 
2. Which one would you NEVER want in your life? Why?
3. Do the character quiz. Which character are you?



Task Seven - Recommendation

Read the criteria below and answer the following two questions:
1. Which of these criteria does King meet, based on what you've learned in this webquest?
2. Would you recommend that we read Stephen King's work in English class, based on what you've found out about his work? Why or why not?


A good writer.....  
Writes in more than one genre. One trick ponies are not considered worthy of study.  
Creates believable characters and settings  
Makes you care about what happens to the characters  
Is not too predictable and stays away from clichés  
Makes you think about the book or story after you've read it  
Is a good technical writer, with great vocabulary, faultless grammar, correct use of narrative tenses.  
Manages suspension of disbelief: stories are consistent within their own universe.

Use the checklist below to see whether you have included everything you should include.

Your final work must include:



1. Ten interesting facts from Stephen King's life  

  2. Descriptions of ten of his books, of maximum one paragraph per story.
  3. Two reviews of short stories that you've read. Use the ones your teacher gave you, the ones online or use  your own. Max 1/2 A4 page per review.
  4. At the movies: Answers to the questions.
  5. On writing: Answers to the questions.
  6. Characters: Answers to the questions.
  7. Recommendation: based on the criteria given, on what you've read yourself and on what you've found out from others, should Stephen King be studied in English class or should we just stick to Twilight?

The following rules also apply:

This must be YOUR OWN work, so no copying and pasting. If you use quotes from a certain source, say so!  Cite your information using MLA format.
          Example: "On the website so-and-so Stephen King says blablabla"  Plagiarism will mean very easy grading for your teacher, as you will get an instant F.

Your work must be handed in ON TIME.  The exact date will be in the assignment in Classroom. If you use other sources than the ones given, include them at the end of your document.



Plagiarized work will not be graded.

Late work will not be graded.

  • Did you actually answer the questions?
  • Is it clear that you've read the sources?
  • Do you support your answers with evidence?
  • Have you given the matter some thought?

There will be a rubric handed out in class to grade this project.